Protecting my Kodas, protecting future Kodas.

Being from a very small town, there is no Deaf awareness. It’s so bad the local disability resource’s Deaf Coordinator works part time and doesn’t even know sign language. Anyone calling for services related to Deafness is referred to someplace else. So no Deaf awareness… no Coda/Koda awareness.

Last fall I made it a priority to meet with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and the principal. It all stemmed from a pre-school incident. My daughter was asked the sign for “happy”. She knows this but felt put on the spot and signed it backwards, almost like “getting dressed”. The teacher then taught the incorrect sign to the rest of the class. I didn’t really care about the improper use of the sign (this time, that’s another story) than I did about putting my kid on the spot. Just as a 5 year old does not have command of the entire English language, my daughter does not know every sign.

At my meeting I explained our bi-lingual and bi-cultural household. It went over with the teachers very well. Better than I thought actually. From this meeting the teacher asked if I would teach the students signs during calendar time. I was delighted. I go in once a week for half an hour. We started last October. After the first week the teacher commented how amazed she was. She thought some of the kids were not very interested and day-dreaming but was shocked to see they really got the hang of it and were paying attention. I was thrilled she found my participation useful.

Last Monday, the teacher said the class had a surprise for me. “OK kids, let’s show her”. They did the entire calendar segment in sign language with their voices OFF. This includes about 3 songs, counting and a Q&A time. I was completely SHOCKED! Not that the kids could do it, but that the teacher has been nurturing this entire segment. It brought tears to my eyes.

My hope is to expose my kid’s peers to sign language. I dunno, maybe I am living in my past. Kids were mean to me – you know the stupid hand gestures that didn’t look like sign, just looked like a stupid kid doing gestures. I don’t want that to happen to my kids. No one does, right?

Can you imagine if every student in elementary school was exposed to sign language? I don’t mean once a year but on a level that would give them familiarity. Providing this would heighten the awareness of another recognized language and culture. Thus, maybe… just maybe, might save a little Koda from some angst and pain. Or, heal mine.

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  1. Thanks for your comment. Glad to ‘meet’ you. How super sweet that the class can do all of calendar time! Yay them! Would’ve brought tears to my eyes, as well.

  2. lostkitty

    Hi, thanks for giving me a link to your blog! Whenever I have been with other Codas I’ve always been amazed at similar experiences because I always used to think “this doesn’t happen to anyone else but me”. I’m so glad that your daughter’s teacher is into the signing and having you teach it because it does take that pressure off her. Boy, I remember having that kind of pressure, to interpret or explain and being only 5 years old. I also read the post about the lady who despises anything to do with deaf because of the abuse she suffered and I feel sad for her. What I have found is that now that I’m no longer a child and no longer an interpreter, I seem not to be a part of deaf world anymore. My parents have pretty much isolated themselves from their old friends and their clubs anyway. There are times I miss all that–reel to reel movie nights, social events at the beach, Dingo, and so on.

  3. Toni

    I enjoyed reading this.. i am a deaf parent w/two hearing children. like you.. i fought for my sons right in school. Many hearing would depend on my son to interpret for deaf students. i felt this was not right.. i complained to the principal and told the man.. if my son was ever caught interpreting again.. to pay him !!! I was soo mad.. and my son who didn’t want his deaf friends to be left out.. felt bad. i tried to explain to him that it wasn’t his job to do.. i refuse to not allow my son to hear for me.. if he tells me the phone rings.. great.. if he don’t tell me.. great.. i do fine all by myself.. but the hearing world needs to understand that coda’s can’t do this.. i’ve fought left and right.. i wish there was a coda agency here for my son.. not just deaf camp wich he can attend.. but one just for coda’s and meet others. let me know.. thanks so much!

  4. mamalutz

    I think that is wonderful! I have made sure to mention to each of my kids teachers that they have deaf grandparents…that I would be willing to come in to teach sign language, and that grandma and grandpa would be thrilled to come in and talk about their experiences. No takers yet 😦 I agree totally with you about wanting others to be exposed to deaf culture. I have horrid memories about kids ridiculing me with their voices as well as signs. But I think it has served to strengthened my resolve to educate people about deafness, and it has given me a greater sensitivity to all people.

  5. I love your blog! I wasn’t sure where to pop in and make a comment. This was a very sweet story, so I chose to pop in over here.

    I was really fluent in a lot of languages when I was young – 14-19. When I tell people that ASL was one of them, they look at me kind of funny. But I am proud that I did use it for quite a while. The knowledge has faded now with out use, just like French, Spanish, German, Portugese, and Italian that I studied in that same time period!

    When I was young, I gravitated towards the deaf kids to be firends. I was 50% hard of hearing, so I was more sensitive to their lives than other kids at times.

    While in college, I found myself in a circle of deaf friends. They took me dancing to deaf clubs, and we had a great time. I used to get calls from the operators to give me their phone messages all the time, this was in the 70’s so that was our best option then.

    I am signed up for an ASL meetup in my area, but I haven’t gone to any yet.

    You were a nice little reminder today!

    Hugs,

    Sally

  6. codadiva

    Dr. Sally,
    THANK YOU for not only loving this blog, but for leaving a comment!! Wow, you knew all those languages, that is real talent to be able to understand language, they are all so complex. Which one do you think was the toughest for you?

    I hope to see you more over here, as I ramp up my blog. sssshhhh I’m going under some new transitions, which will be super fun!

    Have a wonderful week!
    Lisa




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